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Probiotics and immune health

Yan, Fanga; Polk, D.B.b,c,d

Current Opinion in Gastroenterology: November 2011 - Volume 27 - Issue 6 - p 496–501
doi: 10.1097/MOG.0b013e32834baa4d
Immunology: Edited by W. Allan Walker

Purpose of review The beneficial effects of probiotics have been demonstrated in many diseases. One of the major mechanisms of probiotic action is through the regulation of host immune response. This review highlights the recent scientific research findings that advance our understanding of probiotic regulation of the host immune response with potential application for disease prevention and treatment.

Recent findings Probiotic genomic and proteomic studies have identified several genes and specific compounds derived from probiotics, which mediate immunoregulatory effects. Studies regarding the biological consequences of probiotics in host immunity suggested that they regulate the functions of systemic and mucosal immune cells and intestinal epithelial cells. Thus, probiotics showed therapeutic potential for diseases, including several immune response-related diseases, such as allergy, eczema, viral infection, and potentiating vaccination responses.

Summary Probiotics may provide novel approaches for both disease prevention and treatment. However, the results of clinical studies regarding probiotic application are preliminary and require further confirmation.

aDepartment of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee

bDepartment of Pediatrics

cDepartment of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern California

dSaban Research Institute, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA

Correspondence to D.B. Polk, MD, Department of Pediatrics, University of Southern California, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, 4650 Sunset Boulevard, MS#126, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA Tel: +1 323 361 2278; fax: +1 323 361 3719; e-mail:

© 2011 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins